The soundtrack of Deep South USA
Historic tracks lead us on a rail tour through the heartland of great American music - from Nashville, home of Country Music, to the Blues, Soul and Rock 'n' Roll of Memphis and the jazz of New Orleans.
We fly from London Heathrow to Atlanta and transfer to our hotel, the Holiday Inn & Suites Atlanta Airport South, for an overnight stay.
A morning guided sightseeing tour explores this fascinating city. Entrance is also included to the Martin Luther King Center and Church which pays homage to the man himself as well as the civil rights movement which he was part of. The tour continues to Margaret Mitchell House, where the author wrote her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, 'Gone with the Wind'. Following free time for lunch, we transfer to Chattanooga, where we board the Tennessee Valley Railroad, for a round trip that includes one of Tennessee's oldest railroad tunnels. This evening, we check in to the Doubletree by Hilton Chattanooga Downtown.
Our coach takes us through Tennessee to Lynchburg, capital of Moore County. Moore County has been 'dry' since the days of prohibition, which makes its main attraction all the more extraordinary - it is the home of Jack Daniel's Distillery. After a tour of the distillery we continue to Nashville, staying for three nights at Gaylord Opryland Nashville. This evening, we visit the legendary Grand Ole Opry, one of the oldest and most iconic country music venues in the US. Founded as a radio station in 1925, today this classic music venue still hosts the same regular broadcast, now with a popular extended format, in addition to regular stage shows - the likes of which we are treated to tonight. Enjoy live music performed on 'country's most famous stage'.
Since the 1940s Nashville has been synonymous with country music, with its collection of recording studios on 'Music Row' and the Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry for three decades. A morning guided tour introduces you to the sights before we visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, the world's largest music museum, for an amazing 'who's who' in the world of country music. Day 5 is at leisure in Nashville.
Our journey through Tennessee continues to Memphis, pausing en-route at Jackson, where you have free time for lunch and a spot of sightseeing - perhaps visit the Rock-a-Billy Hall of Fame. We then stop at the Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, a series of museums dedicated to the history of the south, from its musical traditions to its infamous history of slave labour in the cotton fields.
We complete our journey to Memphis later this afternoon, where we check in to the Doubletree Downtown Memphis. The rest of your day is at leisure.
This morning we pay a visit to the fantastic Graceland, Elvis' 14 acre mansion, and view his preserved living quarters, private aircraft and car collections. This afternoon introduces the sights of Memphis' extraordinary musical history. We visit Sun Studio, which lays claim to being the birthplace of rock 'n' roll, with a roster featuring Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash.
This morning we board Amtrak's City of New Orleans service, heading through Mississippi to Louisiana. It is claimed that the Blues spread along this route by rail. The pretty, floral towns of Brookhaven and McComb lead into the exotic Cajun swamps of the Louisiana Bayou. We take the train as far as Hammond, from where we transfer by coach to the Oak Alley Plantation, for a guided tour. This restored house stands as testament to both the grand lives of Louisiana land owners and the suffering of those enslaved here.
One of the many sugar plantations that once lined the Mississippi River, Oak Alley retains the grandeur of its heyday, aided by restorations taken out after 1925. Featuring typical Greek-revival architecture, the approach to this antebellum property is particularly impressive, shaded by a canopy of bowed oak trees, thought to be 300 years old. Our guided tour reveals the history of the magnificent house, sometimes referred to as the 'Grande Dame of the Great River Road', along with its splendid grounds. Later, we continue by coach to New Orleans.
This morning's guided tour provides an introduction to one of the best-known parts of the city: the renowned French Quarter. Also known as the 'Old Quarter', the layout of this portion of New Orleans is as intended by 18th century French colonists, and offers an excellent example of the wrought iron lamps and elaborate balconies synonymous with the city's architecture.
Following some free time to arrange lunch (perhaps sample some of the famous Creole cuisine), this afternoon we board a traditional paddle steamer, for a delightful sightseeing cruise along the Mississippi River. Our jazz cruise takes place on board an authentic steamboat, and offers a view of the 'Big Easy' that only a vantagepoint on the river can provide. During our time on board, we enjoy a live performance from the ship's jazz band, as a fabulous background to our historic cruise.
After disembarking, you are free to enjoy your evening at leisure; perhaps head to Bourbon Street for a nightcap in one of the bars on New Orleans' oldest street, or slip into a jazz bar for a night of live entertainment.
Your entire day is free to soak up the splendour of New Orleans. Roaring with life, the 'Big Easy' is known as the south's party city thanks to Mardi Gras, yet year-round there is a sense of spirited adventure and playfulness here. A wander through the colourful streets will offer an excellent introduction to the eclectic architecture stretching back centuries, whilst restaurants here offer a taste of hearty southern cuisine influenced by the various cultures that rub shoulders here - from spicy Creole cooking to the fried meats that are synonymous with the south.
On Day 11, departing from New Orleans, we board our Amtrak service to Houston. We begin Day 12 in Houston with a guided tour of the city's main landmarks, including the Allen's Landing and NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center. On Day 13, we transfer to the airport for our return flight to London, arriving the following day.
For our February 24th 2019 departure a grandstand ticket for the New Orleans Mardi Gras (or 'Fat Tuesday') celebrations is included in the price. Mardi Gras is one of the biggest and most colourful celebrations in America, with a plethora of parades, jazz, and food to enliven anyone who visits. Taking place on what is otherwise known as 'Shrove Tuesday' in the Easter season, this is one of America's oldest traditions, with the first one being held in 1699. Enjoy this incredible experience - it is certainly unforgettable.
Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Enhancing your tour
This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 8 verified reviews
Great tour of exciting places. Some hotels below expectations and a couple of very long travelling days were the downsides. Overall a wonderful holiday.
Very well organised and lovely group of people
Great tour , some hotels not the standard I would expect
This holiday didn't meet the experiences we had on the Coast to Coast. Our tour manager James was brilliant which made the holiday. We spent more time on coaches than trains - and it is supposed to be 'Great Rail Journeys'!! Some of the hotels - especially Memphis not good and far away from the main activities. Some of the tour guides were of a much lower standard than the Coast to Coast. Bits were very good and I did enjoy it but just not as much. I also thought the last dinner wasn't very good and the venue for it awful in New Orleans. The New Orleans was perfect - a good quality hotel and central place. I felt your quality has gone down since last year....
Great holiday, with great Tour Mansger but can't give 5 stars as not every hotel was great.
Great itinerary, fabulous guide, terrific excursions
The experience fulfilled expectations . Hotels were comfortable , travel arrangements well thought through and sites visited excellent. Time to explore about right.
Fantastic holiday. Worth every penny. Great hotels close to where you needed to be. Wonderful excursions, organised and carried out with great care to ensure that guests had the best experience.
A great holiday. Tempted to do it again. The music history was brilliant with visits to some amazing places. Sun Records,RCA Studio B, Country Hall of Fame, Grand Ole Opry, Blues Museum, Gibson factory and the music bars in Memphis and New Orleans. The Civil War Museums, Battle of New Orleans battle site plus Martin Luther Kings Motel Memorial place and the Civil Rights Museum. I took 863 photographs and that just scratches the surface. Brilliant!
The soundtrack of Deep South USA